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Monday, September 29, 2008

The Bad Samaritan

A stranger knocked on the door just now. He was full of apologies for intruding. Everything seemed to take him a long time to say. I kept asking him what he wanted. He pointed in the direction of his car which was apparently parked down the road. He would leave me I.D. and he would pay it back tomorrow but - and he realised that there was no reason for me to trust him - he needed "four or five pounds". Because I have a massive suspicion of anyone who turns up at my door, I said no.

I then started to wonder whether I'd turned my back on some deserving citizen. You never know. Alyson recalled the woman in Marks & Spencer who'd once paid her shopping bill when she found herself without a purse. And I remembered lots of other acts of kindness from complete strangers. What kind of monster had London turned me into?

Putting the bins out later on I bumped into a neighbour. There's a bloke working the street, he said. Trying to cadge money from people. Another neighbour had turned him away, then thought better of it, got a spare can of petrol out of his shed and gone looking for the bloke. He found him. Funnily enough bloke didn't want petrol.

So I was right. Restores your lack of faith in human nature.

11 comments:

  1. There used to be a scammer in Liverpool who would try to cadge cash for his bus - he would always promise to pay you back and, as a sign of good faith, he'd give you his reading glasses to hold as surety.

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  2. Or who cannot forget the old favourite : "I need the bus fare to get to my court case on time."

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  3. The other day a young woman asked me for a few pounds not an exact amount just "a few". Many of the cadgers for bus fares seem to be unaware of how cheap fares in london are now. (oh and the fee ride offered by bendy buses!)

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  4. Many years ago I was standing outside Westminster tube station. A well dressed man approached me and asked if it would be possible for me to lend him £800 so that he could fly back to Kenya.

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  5. Exactly the same thing happened to me, only he needed money to get to the hospital where his girlfriend was about to give birth, blah, blah, blah. He was in a terrible state, and I believed him. He offered to leave me his watch. I never saw him again.

    In the future, someone might knock on my door and genuinely need the money. They won't get any.

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  6. A week or so before Christmas last year I was walking down a quiet street in Parson's Green when I was hailed by a woman in a nondescript car.

    She seemed agitated and asked me where the nearest petrol station was. After I'd told her, so reeled off a long story about how she'd been attacked by her boyfriend and was scared and needed to get to her daughter's house, only her car was nearly out of petrol and she'd left her purse in the house and was afraid to go back...

    She was very convincing. If it wasn't a true story, she was a good actress, and the upshot was that I gave her a tenner to buy some petrol, and she took my address so she could pay me back.

    She didn't - I was going to say 'of course', but to this day I'm still not sure if I was being scammed or not. In the end I decided to write it off to the Christmas spirit.

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  7. A few years ago a friend of mine "loaned" £50 to a woman he came upon in the West End. She was bleeding, apparently from a run-in with a violent boyfriend. A week later he saw her again in the same place with the same injury.

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  8. Ha! That reminds me of the bloke who used to work Finsbury Park tube station. His shtick was that he needed contributions towards his train fare to go to somewhere implausible in Kent to see his nan.

    His mistake was to do this in the same place athe same time of day (and the rush hour at that). I can't have been the only one he approached more than once.

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  9. Two blokes came to my door and wanted to talk about bread. White, brown, wholemeal, the whole nine yards. Turned out they were Hovis Witnessess...

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  10. And tramps are all millionaires.

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  11. He wasn't called Raymond Price was he?

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